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WW interview with Philippine Communist leader

'We won't capitulate to U.S. pressure'

Workers World reporter Lydia Bayoneta recently conducted an interview with Prof. Jose Maria Sison, the founding chairperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and general consultant of the International League of People's Struggle (ILPS).

Bayoneta: What is your current status with regard to the government of the Netherlands?

Sison: I am a political refugee recognized by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the Dutch Council of State and the Dutch government. However, due to long-running U.S. pressure, I have not been admitted as a political refugee to the Netherlands. Neither have I been granted a permit to reside. Sometimes, I am called a "tolerated alien."

As a recognized political refugee, I am protected by the Refugee Convention and by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Don't be confused by the Dutch hairsplitting between the terms "recognized" and "admitted" political refugee. It is the confusion of the Dutch authorities as a result of the unlawful U.S. meddling in my asylum case in violation of the Refugee Convention. Lately, since Aug. 13, the Dutch government has issued the so-called sanction regulation against terrorism in order to subject me to persecution and repressive measures.

The said sanction regulation parrots the Aug. 9 decision of the U.S. State Department designating the Communist Party of the Philippines/New Peoples Army as a "foreign terrorist organization" and the Aug. 12 decision of the U.S. Treasury Department listing the CPP, NPA and myself as targets for the freeze of assets.

What have been some of the immediate effects of this change in your status on you and the Filipino movement?

Sison: I have been criminalized as a "terrorist" without due process. I have been defamed, demonized and subjected to the incitement of public hatred by official propaganda mills. I have thereby suffered material and moral damages and grave threats to my life.

My joint bank account with my wife has been frozen, despite the fact that the money that goes in and out of there comes from the social welfare agency. The measly social benefits, which I receive in exchange for being banned from work as a "tolerated alien," have been terminated. The Dutch authorities offer the restoration of said benefits, but only on condition that these are on "humanitarian grounds" within the framework of the sanction regulation against terrorism.

The U.S.-Dutch imperialist collaboration against me is extremely cruel. I am deprived of the basic necessities of life and my basic human right to life is thus violated. My family manages to survive because we borrow money from friends. By the way, the sanction regulation also threatens to punish any entity for providing me any kind of goods and services, even if for mere subsistence.

The attack on me is meant by the governments in Washington, The Hague and Manila to terrorize the members, consultants, staffers and supporters of the NDFP negotiating panel based in Europe and to push them towards capitulation in the peace negotiations with the Manila government. But the imperialists, together with their puppets, are merely daydreaming by imagining that they can shake down the NDFP towards capitulation. They are in fact goading the revolutionary forces and people in the Philippines to struggle more resolutely and more militantly than ever before for national liberation and democracy.

The U.S. has its own unilateral strategic objective. If the shakedown on the NDFP does not result in capitulation of the revolutionary forces but the collapse of the peace negotiations, the U.S. is ready to escalate its military intervention in the Philippines and launch a war of aggression for the purpose of tightening U.S. control over the Philippines and all Southeast Asia.

But this early the revolutionary forces and people in the Philippines, including overseas Filipinos, know what the U.S. is up to. And they are more determined than ever before to fight for their national and democratic rights against U.S. imperialism and its puppets in the Philippines.

After so many years as a recognized political refugee, why do you think the Netherlands has so abruptly changed its attitude towards you in particular? Do you expect your personal situation to become worse?

Sison: The Dutch government is consistently against my residence in the Netherlands. I have managed to stay long in the Netherlands by standing up for my rights against the powerful attempts of the Dutch government to violate the Refugee Convention and European Convention. The abrupt change is not in the attitude of the Dutch government but in the intensity of its intolerance and arbitrariness towards me. The Dutch government follows the baton of the U.S. government in this regard.

It is not at all surprising that the Dutch government does the bidding of the U.S. in using the pretext of anti-terrorism against me and in applying the most unjust and most cruel repressive measures against me. The U.S. and Dutch governments and multinational firms are long-time partners in the exploitation of the peoples of Southeast Asia and other parts of the world.

I am now taking legal actions to have my name removed from the list of "terrorists" and free myself from the adverse consequences of the witch hunt. These legal actions cost time, effort and money. The costs are punishing, too. But supporters are working hard to raise a legal defense fund for me.

I face far worse possibilities, including extradition and even assassination by the CIA. According to certain high officials of the Manila government, especially national security adviser Roilo Golez, the U.S. is preparing to request the Dutch government to extradite me to U.S. territory or to put me under provisional detention pending the fabrication of a criminal charge for my extradition.

The U.S. and Dutch governments are quite capable of using their extradition treaty against me despite the clear political motivation of the U.S. in fabricating the charge of terrorism against me.

How do you assess the "war on terrorism" of the Bush administration?

Sison: The so-called Bush war on terrorism is actually a war of imperialist terrorism. The Bush administration has used the horrific terrorist attacks on civilians on Sept. 11 as the excuse for unleashing the super-terrorism of U.S. imperialism on the people of the world. Such super-terrorism includes wars of aggression, widespread military intervention, internationalization of repressive policies, escalation of state terrorism, intensified U.S. military spending and war production, assertions of monopoly right over weapons of mass destruction and the doctrine and practice of preemptive strikes.

A German leader has aptly compared Bush to Hitler. He whips up war hysteria, steps up war production and seeks to suppress dissent and revolutionary resistance in order to deflect attention from the daily worsening economic and social crisis of the world capitalist system.

Comment on the relationship of this "war on terrorism" to the century-long struggle of the Philippines to achieve true sovereignty and independence.

Sison: It is clear that the Bush war of terrorism is aimed at violating the national sovereignty and independence of countries and peoples all over the world. We are therefore reminded of the century-long struggle of the Filipino people for national independence.

The 1899-1902 U.S. war of aggression against the Filipino people and the subsequent pacification campaigns lasting up to 1914 killed 1.4 million Filipinos, suppressed Philippine independence and put the Filipino people under U.S. colonial rule.

The U.S. also instigated, directed and propped up the Marcos fascist dictatorship for 14 years in order to retain all-round U.S. control over the Philippines in the face of a rising patriotic and progressive mass movement. In the process, the U.S. encouraged the Marcos fascist regime to torture and kill at least 200,000 people.

Now, Bush is using the pretext of war on terrorism in order to bring U.S. combat forces into the Philippines, re-establish the U.S. military bases and tighten U.S. control over the Philippines. The Filipino people can achieve complete victory in their revolutionary struggle for national liberation and democracy only by contending with and defeating the brutal military power of the U.S. and its puppets in the Philippines.

Recently, with the collaboration of the government of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the U.S. has indeed reintroduced U.S. combat troops into the Philippines. Please comment further on the goals and tactics of both the U.S. and Filipino governments.

Sison: The U.S. strategic planners think that the U.S. can grab anything while it is the sole superpower in the world. They have reintroduced U.S. combat troops into the Philippines initially under the pretext of going after the Abu Sayyaf.

After failing to destroy this small bandit group in the tiny island of Basilan, they announce that they wish to fight the revolutionary forces on a nationwide scale. They wish to extend so-called access rights, build up the military infrastructure and ultimately get basing rights for U.S. military forces.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is a worse puppet than any presidential predecessors. Even at the height of the Cold War, none found it necessary to call on U.S. military forces to fight the revolutionary forces in the country. She is obsessed with the notion that U.S. military and other kinds of intervention will ensure her victory in the 2004 elections.

How important is the Philippines to the goals of U.S. imperialism in Asia and the surrounding region?

Sison: The Philippines is strategically important to the U.S. It is historically and currently a reliable launching base of the U.S. for its initiatives in the military, economic, political and cultural fields in Southeast Asia, in the whole of Asia and as far as the Middle East. The U.S. is hell bent on controlling the Philippines because it is the key point for controlling the whole of Southeast Asia. This region is on the path of the trading fleets and rapid deployment forces of the U.S. As in the past, the Philippines can be used by the U.S. to swing the other Southeast Asian countries in support of a U.S. dual policy of engagement and containment towards China.

Getting back to your situation as a political refugee, what can the worldwide movement, and particularly people in the United States, do to assist your struggle?

Sison: The most important thing to do is to gather moral and political support. For that purpose, information about my situation and struggle must be disseminated and must enlighten the people about the avarice and cruelty of imperialism.

I invite people in the U.S. to visit the following Web sites: www.defendsison.be and [email protected] to keep themselves informed and updated about my struggle.

It is of crucial importance that we gain abundant support from the American people because they are in the belly of the beast that is chiefly responsible for the reign of greed and terror in the world. They can deliver telling blows.

We seek statements of solidarity and mutual support. We hold information and organizational meetings. We generate protest mass actions, from pickets to bigger rallies. We find ways of raising funds for the legal defense fund. We coordinate with all other progressive forces in order to link up the issues and bring about a more massive force in support of the just cause of national liberation, democracy and a just peace.

Reprinted from the Nov. 7, 2002, issue of Workers World newspaper
This article is copyrighted under a Creative Commons License.
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